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County Court judgements

County Court judgementsDuring a Select Committee hearing last summer, when evidence was being collated about the need for revised legislation in the park home sector, one of the park owners interviewed conceded that he had £150,000 standing against his name in unpaid county court judgements. This matter was of concern to many, including Lord Graham of Edmonton, who raised it in a House of Lords question time debate in early March.

He asked Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Government Spokesperson at the Ministry of Justice, whether resolutions of county court judgements were monitored.

Lord Ahmad said that county court judgements are not monitored and the civil courts only provide a forum in which individuals can resolve their disputes. ‘However,’ he added, ‘the Government believes that an effective enforcement system is important and reforms have been made to strengthen these.

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Lord Graham pointed out that, in addition to the park owner who admitted that he owed £150,000, a park owner in the West Country had the same amount against his name. Lord Graham recalled that the Isle of Wight dealt with a similar matter when two park owners were convicted on 11 counts and were fined £300,000, £275,000 of which was for compensation. He asked Lord Ahmad why in some cases compensation is guaranteed, when in others it has to be fought for.

Responding, Lord Ahmed said that the civil courts offer several enforcement methods, including warrants of execution, attachment of earnings, third-party debt orders, charging orders and orders for sale. He also said that the Government is not planning to return to imposing prison sentences for debtors who do not pay their debts  

Lord Ahmad also explained that the Government is taking steps to tackle site owners who take advantage of tenants and then re-register as another company. He said there would be greater control over the issuing of licences to people who ‘have been found to be neglectful of their responsibility to their tenants’.